A billion light years away, a monster star tore itself to shreds.
And by that I mean it tore itself to shreds. In general exploding stars — supernovae — leave behind a neutron star or black hole, but in this case it’s possible that the explosions was so over-the-top ridiculously violent that even the star’s core was ripped apart. It’s difficult to exaggerate how violent an event this was… but then, when huge amounts of antimatter are involved, that’s what happens.
The event is called SN2016iet, a supernova that was detected on November 14, 2016. It was first spotted in data taken by the space-based Gaia observatory, and was followed-up by the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey, then Pan-STARRS, and eventually the huge Gemini Telescope to get deep spectra of it. But it didn’t take long to determine that this particular supernova was weird.
And then they found it was really weird.
Most exploding stars get bright over the course of a few days, peak, then decay away over the next few months. SN2016iet didn’t do that: It peaked twice, which right away is bizarre. The second peak occurred about 100 days after the first, and both were phenomenally ...